A Home at the End of the World

A question that keeps coming up on my Facebook feed of late in relation to my series of books is- Will this be the last book in the series? The answer is a bit non-committal in that it’s both yes and no.

From the time I could first read books have been a place of refuge in my life. They still are and I suspect will be until I can no longer lift up a book or see the print on the page. My own books have– through the act of writing–become that as well. A place of refuge.

In Where Butterflies Dream there is a chapter titled ‘A Home at the End of the World’. I realize what I have created for myself within the pages of this long and winding tale is my own home at the end of the world. In some ways Pamela, Casey, Jamie et al are more familiar to me than people I see on a regular basis. In short they are family to me and I often understand their feelings and actions better than I understand my own.

One thing I have always promised myself is that I wouldn’t write these people beyond the natural arc of their story. In other words, I need to be hearing them loud and clear in order to write them properly. I don’t ever want to be manufacturing their story or phoning it in, so to speak.

That being said–are they done with me? No, I don’t think so. Right now I have plans for a novella set during Jamie’s years at Oxford, another short piece about the Riordan men, sort of the next set of chapters on from Bare Knuckle and quite possibly a post-series book featuring Conor and the rest of the children when they are older. But there’s another book drifting about in my head, one that’s barely more than tendrils of mist right now, though that’s often how my books begin for me. Pieces slowly emerge showing me a bit here and a bit there until I start to see a larger picture and the potential for an overall arc and the smaller story lines which exist inside that arc. I have to see the arc clearly though in terms of history. There’s plenty to choose from though the arc is maybe not quite as clear and stark as the one which led from where the books began to the Hunger Strike of 1981. But there’s the whole peace process and the ‘90s were a time of great turmoil in terms of the Troubles, so there is a great deal of fodder for story there.

As far as this ‘misty’ book goes I have a prologue, an ending and a title– so I have a notion of what it might look like and it would definitely be part of the main series. I have to be certain it has strong and defined story lines though before I commit to writing it. It could even be that book is the one based more around the next generation–Conor, et al. and Pamela’s voice is speaking through it like a ribbon of narrative– because whatever else the book becomes, it begins and ends with her- that much I do know.

   I feel like I grew up with Casey, Pamela, Jamie and Pat in some ways. I’ve been writing about them in one way or another since my late twenties. They have been my daily companions in thought even on the days when there wasn’t time to write. So the thought of not ‘talking’ to them every day is a very daunting and rather sad thing. I’m excited to begin working on Yevgena’s story but I suspect I’ll find myself writing bits and pieces from their lives as well, just to stay in touch with them and what’s going on. If that becomes a book–if it’s compelling enough to be a book–then I’ll let it become what it wants to be. Perhaps if people are interested I’ll occasionally share some of the ‘news’ from their world.

Things are so strange right now with the pandemic situation that it’s hard to focus enough to map out a clear path writing-wise. I’m having a hard time focusing enough to read, never mind write and usually I am a person who writes her way into clarity. That’s just not working for me right now. It’s hard to feel like a story matters when the world is so unstable and abnormal. But eventually I know I’ll return to my old patterns and hopefully write my way into clarity. I’ll find it in the rolling wheels of Yevgena’s home, or in an ancient wolf cave high in the hills of Ireland or by the shore of the sea with a woman having trouble sleeping one particular night.

The dream was an old one. She’d had it since childhood, a dream of the sea and a ship which never found a horizon. It always started in roughly the same fashion—her setting out on a voyage, the lone woman on a big wooden ship with sails like a drift of blue chrysanthemum petals.

   There was never an understanding of where the ship was headed, nor why.  She was the only woman aboard, and not a welcome one. The sailors looked sidelong at her, with distrust, and she could hear their mutterings in her wake. A woman aboard ship was considered ill luck, this she knew, but still the ship was the only way for her to get to her destination. Where that destination was never seemed clear, though she thought she would know it when she saw it…

If Miss Pamela is still seeing fit to relate her dreams to me then I suppose it’s possible she has much more to say. I hope so, I’ll miss her far too much if she simply walks off into the west of Ireland sunset.

I’m going to append an odd little note here at the end but you’ll see why as you read it. About a month ago someone sent me a message via my website. In it she stated that she’s a long time reader and then said she’d be happy to volunteer to be tested to be a living liver donor should I ever need such a thing. I tried to email her back but I keep getting a ‘Unable to deliver mail’ message in return each time I attempt to send it. I suspect she may read my blog though, so I’m going to take the opportunity to just tell her thank you so much–that offer was unbelievably kind, and I admit I teared up when I read her words. So RM if you see this–thank you, you reminded me of how amazingly selfless humans can be. Thankfully I don’t need anything like that just now, but it’s good to know that if I ever should, the offer is there.